San Francisco – the land of the world's last manual cable cars… Part 1

Beautiful SF and me!

Before you start reading you need to know that this post is picture intensive and that there’s a lot of me in it. Unfortunately… I’m very old school in terms of holiday photos. When I see something nice I run next to it and shout for someone to take my picture…only to realize after downloading the picture on my computer that I have 10000 pictures of me in different poses or places… so if you can stomach those sort of pictures… read on!


My next stop after HK was San Francisco (thereafter known as SF) in California. And I have to say I love SF! The weather is cold but a mild sorta winter. It is however, the wind that makes it chilly. Locals tell me that my timing is fabulous and that the weather is good and the skies are clear. SF is known to be rainy this season and there were thunderstorms both before I arrived and after I left!

Clear skies in SFO

One of the must do things in SF is to take the cable car ride! It’s the world’s last permanently operational manually-operated cable car system and the only moving National Historic Landmarks.Well I’m sure you would have seen how hilly a city SF is in movies and all. I would definitely get a tone butt if I lived there and had to climb a hill every time I walked on the street.

Me sitting in a cable car

Well… the cable car started because in the late 1800s, Andrew Smith Hallidie witness a horse-drawn carriage slip backward down a hill due to heavy load (SF was after all a gold mining city) and killed 5 horses. So he invented the wire rope cable car to deal with SF fearsome hills!

The SF cable car

I personally took the Powell-Hyde line which begins at the Powell Market turntable (near my hotel) and runs over Nob and Russian hills before ending at Aquatic Park near Ghiradelli Square… from which I walked to fisherman’s wharf. I took the liberty of standing at the back of the trolley instead of sitting inside so I can view the scenery when the cable car is at the top of a hill!

Standing in cable car

The place I was standing is also where the grip handler is. Grip handlers need great upper body strength to control the breaks! In fact the 1st female grip handler in 1998 had to train hard to develop muscles to be hired to operate the cable car. It so happens that this chinese grip handler I had is a very friendly guy who came to the US from HK to live and was also very knowledgeable about the history of SF and the cable car line. He loves Singapore and the fact that I’m a teochew (ka ki nang!) so he showed how the whole thing works. I was pretty shocked that at the end of the trip I learned it was his first day on the job! He seemed awful informed… at least enough to fool a tourist like me!

A picture of the grip handler with me!

Will share more of SF in the next post!


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